Kalhun rolled his eyes, sipping his tea again without thought and almost choked on the fumes. The woman slipped forward and refilled his cup again before he could stop her.

Ohar did not seem reassured. If anything, he appeared twice as uncomfortable, unused to dealing with anyone so far removed from his little fishing village, miles from the influence of the shining cities. This far from the capitol, it was unlikely any of these people had seen a single imperial patrol, let alone a sanctioned official.

Even less likely they’d ever seen a shaman.

“We cannot endure this for much longer.” The village head said, without looking at either man. The tugging at his robes increased until he was practically tearing at the fabric. “Already two families have fled to the cities and others are threatening to do the same. With winter’s approach we cannot afford to lose any more men. This must be resolved and quickly.”

Kalhun sighed, “It’s not as easy as that, old man.” He ignored the elder’s sputtering indignation at the insult. Things always moved faster when he was direct. “I can’t just wave my hand and banish whatever monster you think is threatening your village. We have to know what you’re dealing with. Chants and rituals won’t be worth a damn against beasts or plagues.”

“I can assure you… sir… that this is… this is no misunderstanding,” Ohar said, a thread of authority weaving into his voice for the first time since he’d arrived. “There is no doubt… there have been voices, whispers, heard in the night. They wake our children and beckon them out into the black fields. Others have lost all will to move from their beds at all. And the shadows… There is something terrible happening in my village and I… I must see it resolved. I have asked you here to make sure that it is resolved. Now.”

Kalhun smirked: apparently Ohar had remembered he was supposed to be the one in charge around here.

Gaius nodded, “Of course, of course. I can assure you, good sir, we do understand how dire your situation must be. You can be assured we will do all within our power to find a solution.” The teapot girl approached him and he smiled warmly at her as he held out his cup for her to pour more of that vile tea. She returned it with a shy twisting of her lips before her eyes flicked back to Kalhun and she hurried back to her safe little corner of the room. She looked as though she were trying to melt into the stone. Or debating hurling the teapot in his direction.

That was hardly surprising. Gaius had always managed to put people at ease with his easy diplomacy and his kindly, grandfatherly appearance. Kalhun had always been far better at putting people on edge.

Kalhun shifted and rose to his feet, staff in hand. The village head started and snapped the thread between his fingers. The tea girl let out a squeak of terror. Gaius took another sip of his tea.

 “Well?” Kalhun said, impatiently. “I assume you’ll want to show me where these events took place before sundown.”

“Then, you will help us?” Ohar asked.

“What else am I supposed to do?”

“He means, yes, of course we will.” Gaius said with a smile as he slowly rose to his feet.

Kalhun scoffed and turned to the door. It flew open with a wave of his hand and he stepped out into the village square, Gaius following at his back.

It was high time this was dealt with.

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